Our competitive Ph.D. program prepares doctoral candidates to become productive researchers and educators at top research universities.
We pride ourselves on our comprehensive program, our internationally renowned faculty and the diverse environment in which our doctoral candidates learn. A key element of the Ph.D. in accounting program is collaborative work between doctoral students and faculty members. We strive to maintain a program with approximately 12 full-time, in-residence students. This size of the Accounting Ph.D. program allows for effective faculty-student interrelationships, collaboration and competitive funding for all students in residence.
Our department was ranked 14th overall in the 2021 Brigham Young University accounting faculty publication rankings (based on all publications since 1990) and was ranked 15th in the 2019 Public Accounting Report rankings of Ph.D. programs.
Accounting Ph.D. graduates enjoy considerable success in their careers. They are accounting professors at many nationally recognized universities and have earned national recognition for their contributions to the development of accounting research, teaching and practice. MSU graduates hold distinguished chairs in accounting, are editors of premier research journals and are authors of some of the largest selling accounting textbooks in the United States. They also hold positions as chairpersons or directors of major accounting departments, deans of business schools, and people with significant national accounting policy-making responsibilities. Our Doctorate in Accounting graduates distinguish themselves by the frequency with which they are members of editorial boards of leading accounting journals and by their successful publication of research. This emphasis on research and scholarship is the hallmark of MSU’s accounting doctoral programs.
The Ph.D. in Accounting program is a five-year program for most students, although some students successfully complete the program in four years. We strive to maintain a program with approximately 12 full-time, in-residence students. This size of program allows for effective faculty-student interrelationships, collaboration and competitive funding for all students in residence.
The Broad College of Business and the Department of Accounting and Information Systems have course and other requirements for the Ph.D. degree that, in total, form a student’s program of study.
ACC 950: Doctoral Seminar in Accounting Research
Research on auditing, financial and managerial accounting, and taxation using theoretical perspectives and research methods from the social sciences and business disciplines. A total of four different research seminars are taken in the first and second year of the program.
MGT 906: Organizational Research Methods
Methods for scientific research in the areas of organizational behavior, personnel and organizational theory. Theory building, hypothesis formation and testing, reliability theory, construct validity, external validity and research design.
Each student has a minor field of study. The minor is a minimum of 9 hours of course work. The minor is intended to provide theoretical framework, perspective and content as a basis to conduct research in accounting. Examples of minors are micro-economics, finance, organizational behavior, operations management and psychology.
Competence in research-related areas is required. This requirement may be satisfied by completing a minimum of 12 credits in research-related courses with a four-course minimum. Courses must be at the 400-level or above to assure graduate-level competence in the areas studied. Research-related credits earned to meet the requirements of a degree other than the Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration will not be accepted in fulfillment of this requirement. These courses typically are research-method and statistics courses offered in departments such as economics, marketing, supply chain, psychology and statistics.
Each student must maintain an overall GPA of at least 3.25 by the end of the second semester of full-time enrollment and thereafter to remain in the program. A 2.0 grade is the minimum acceptable grade for a course in a student’s program of study or for graduation requirements.
Up to the time of dissertation proposal defense, each student must write two review reports per academic year in the style of referee reports (to be done under the advice of the doctoral program director).
In addition to dissertation research, Ph.D. students are required to complete two research projects as part of the program requirements. The first research project would entail a literature review and include a replication of selected segments from a paper in the area reviewed. Students are welcome to go beyond the minimum requirement for the first research project (e.g., a minor extension of the chosen paper). The second research project would be a completed working paper including testable hypotheses and results. This research paper could be an independent research paper or a paper co-authored with faculty members or other Ph.D. students in the department. The ultimate objective is to create a paper with sufficient quality to allow it to be submitted to a refereed scholarly journal in accounting or related disciplines.
Prior to taking the Ph.D. comprehensive exam, each student must have successfully completed the requirements for the first research project (including presenting in a departmental workshop) as well as completed four enrollments of the accounting Ph.D. seminars (ACC 950) and MGT 906. Given a student can take more than four enrollments of ACC 950, each student must obtain the prior approval of the doctoral program director for the four specific enrollments that would satisfy the prerequisites for the comprehensive exam. This examination is usually given in early summer and has three parts:
The purpose of this examination is to test a student’s knowledge of the scholarly accounting literature, with emphasis on historical and contemporary issues, theories and research methods. In addition to assessing a student’s knowledge, the examination tests a student’s ability to design, evaluate and communicate scholarly research.
Each student must complete a doctoral dissertation judged to be a significant contribution to knowledge by a faculty committee consisting of not less than four members, one designated as chairperson who is an accounting faculty member from the MSU’s Department of Accounting and Information Systems. The doctoral dissertation proposal must be presented at the department research workshop series, with all the members of the student’s dissertation committee in attendance. The dissertation proposal must be approved by three-fourths of the student’s dissertation committee, including approval from the chair. A successful oral defense of the completed doctoral dissertation is required in an open meeting, with all the members of the student’s dissertation committee in attendance. See the Graduate School website for important dissertation requirements.
Students are admitted to the accounting doctoral program only for the fall semester and on a full-time basis. Find out more about admission criteria and the application process.Learn More
Faculty-student collaboration is a significant part of the Broad experience. Doctoral accounting students have the opportunity to work with some of the top researchers across multiple disciplines. Find out more about the research opportunities for accounting doctoral students at MSU.Learn More
The accounting faculty at the Michigan State University Broad College of Business are among the best in the world. Find out more about our faculty currently working with doctoral students.Learn More
See a roster of current accounting doctoral students in the program and a listing of our graduates’ placements at research institutions across the globe over the last decade.Learn More
At the present time, all doctoral students in accounting receive financial support from the department, the college, the university and/or various external organizations. Our goal is to provide every student admitted to the program with a graduate assistantship and/or a fellowship. The assistantship is usually at a half-time level. A half-time appointment requires that the student be a teaching assistant and/or a research assistant for 20 hours a week. Renewal of financial assistance is contingent on the student making satisfactory progress in the program.
Assistantships include a nine-credit hour tuition waiver (i.e. tuition is covered for up to nine credit hours per semester) for each of the fall and spring semesters, a waiver for the out-of-state portion of tuition for non-Michigan residents and health insurance. The waiver does not include registration fees or other fees.
For more information about funding sources, visit the MSU Graduate School.
The program is designed to be completed in five years to give students the best chance at completing research projects prior to going on the job market in order to increase their odds of finding an elite research position. Occasionally, students with advanced research portfolios can graduate in four years.
The doctoral program is strictly a full-time program. We require students to be on campus on a full-time basis, as doctoral students have a broad range of responsibilities including coursework, research assistantships and independent study.
The range of responsibilities during your research assistantship are broad and cover aspects related to forming, developing, managing and executing a theoretically sound and statistically valid and rigorous research project. Students are required to conduct thorough literature reviews, develop and write conceptual framework and hypotheses development sections, collect and analyze data using advanced econometric methods and provide support for why the research is relevant and important to the academic and practitioner fields.
Graduates of the accounting Ph.D. program at Broad frequently cite their experience as research assistants as the paramount reason for their ability to form, develop, manage and subsequently submit their research to top accounting journals after graduating from the doctoral program.
Recent placements include:
To be considered for an assistantship or fellowship, the deadline for applications for August admission is January 15. Applications for the incoming class are reviewed after the January 15 deadline, and interviews are conducted typically in late January or February. All accepted students begin the doctoral program in August – there are no spring or summer starts. It is strongly recommended that applications be completed prior to January 15 for full consideration.
GMAT scores have ranged from 650 to the upper 700s, with most scores in the lower 700s. We require a minimum TOEFL score for international applicants. Learn more on the Admissions page.
The number of students admitted to the doctoral program each year has ranged from one to four, but is typically two or three.
All doctoral students are supported by graduate (teaching/research) assistantships. There is no separate application for assistantships. For the last several years, the typical doctoral student earns approximately $29,000, in addition to their tuition waivers and insurance coverage.